Many types of trees rightfully carry the name “cedar,” including Spanish Cedar and Red Cedar trees. These trees produce aromatic woods that naturally resist insect infestation. The coloring typically ranges from an orange-red to a pinkish hue, while its sapwood is a creamy light yellow. Its lightweight quality, unique appearance, and rot and insect resistance make cedar wood ideal for many applications.
Indigenous to South and Central America, the tightly grained Spanish Cedar is typically used in cigar boxes and humidors, while the Red Cedar is much more versatile.
Originating in the U.S. and Canada, the term “Red Cedar” can be used to refer to either the Eastern Red Cedar or the Western Red Cedar. The Eastern Red Cedar is also known as the Eastern Red-cedar, Red Cedar, Eastern Juniper, Red Juniper, Pencil Cedar, and Redcedar. As you might have picked up from a couple of the names listed, the Eastern Red Cedar is technically a juniper, and not a true cedar. In fact, the American Joint committee on Horticultural Nomenclature rejects the tree’s most common monikers. Despite official disapproval, though, the industry standard names “Eastern Red Cedar” and “Red Cedar” remain well-used.
The term “Red Cedar” can also be used as a misnomer for the Western Red Cedar, which is technically part of the cypress family. As the Provincial tree of British Columbia and a premier member of the Pacific Northwest U.S., the Western Redcedar is a coniferous evergreen that shares some of the same properties of other actual cedar trees.
Despite the conflict over titles, spellings, and other ancillary details, Western Redcedar lumber is considered a specialty wood that’s ideal for use in more than chests to hold blankets. (And whatever you choose to call it, it certainly does smell sweet!) Western Redcedar needs to be dried carefully in order to exhibit the stability needed for building applications, so J. Gibson McIlvain employs kilns in their drying process. The combination of strength and low density make Red Cedar a light but sturdy wood, and its low sap content makes it easy on cutting machines.
Due to its weather-resistant properties, Western Redcedar is commonly used for exterior applications, such as roof shingles, exterior siding, outdoor trim, patio furniture, and decking, fence posts, sheds, and trellises. Inside, its appearance lends itself to rustic décor, in which case it makes great use for interior mouldings and other millwork. Due to the insect-repelling properties of the wood, some smaller traditional applications include trunks or chests used to store blankets and sweaters, as well as storage closet interiors. The alleged reason why cedar repels insects is that the same distinctive aroma that makes cedar attractive to many people makes it repulsive to insects.
You can count on J. Gibson McIlvain to carry the highest quality Western Redcedar for whatever softwoods applications you desire. You can also be assured that whatever name you prefer to use for this specialty wood, our softwoods experts will know what you mean.